News that the NSW Government will fund the increase in the emergency services levy for NSW councils this financial year has been welcomed by Kempsey Shire Council.
Kempsey mayor Liz Campbell has acknowledged the decision is a relief and removes the burden from council for this financial year.
"We discussed this matter at our May council meeting and have been part of the lobbying campaign coordinated by Local Government NSW to have the issue addressed," mayor Campbell said.
"It's a win for now to know that we aren't going to have to fund the increases in the immediate term, which would have meant finding more than $91,000, of unplanned expenses in this year's budget. But there is still more to be done to resolve the issue."
Acting Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro and the Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock announced that the state's 128 councils would not have to pay the additional $13.6 million this financial year earlier this week.
"The NSW Government acknowledges this additional cost presented challenges for councils, particularly those in regional and rural areas badly affected by the drought," Mr Barilaro said.
"That's why the Government will fund the $13.6 million to cover the additional levy costs to support firefighters who develop cancer, to alleviate the immediate pressure on local councils."
Kempsey Shire Council, along with many council's across the state, are asking the Government to work together to redesign the implementation of the scheme to ensure it is fairer for councils and communities.
"That planning needs to be prioritised so that we don't face a similar last minute cost shifting exercise next financial year," mayor Campbell said.
Mayor Campbell acknowledged the work recently undertaken by local firefighters in the Macleay Valley and said council supports better workers compensation.
"The events of this last week are a huge reminder of the amazing job our volunteer and career firefighters do and we support the need to provide better workers compensation coverage. We hope to continue talks about a fair mechanism to achieve that coverage."
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